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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 34)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(34) by Samantha Young
  • strange, dark, lonely world. Despite everything, she wished Red would come back.

    “Now is that any way to greet a visitor?” Asmodeus purred at her, reminding her of a large jaguar. Beautiful, but one slash of those claws….

    “If I remember correctly, last time we were alone you were threatening my life.”

    “You misunderstood, that’s al.”

    “What do you want, Asmodeus?”

    “I’m bored. I am always bored, Ari. I thought you could entertain me.”

    A new fear shot through her and she involuntarily slid back on the bed, her chest seeming to cave in on her.

    The Marid roled his eyes at her. “Not in that way. I have a harem. I do not need to take unwiling females to bed. Although… it has been some time since I’ve shared a bed with a virgin.”

    Fighting off a blush, Ari glowered at him. “I want you to leave.”

    “I want to stay.” He shrugged. “I want to know more about the Seal.”

    “The Seal? Surely you know everything.”

    “No. I want to know about the Seal’s effect on you.”

    Ari scrambled to her feet, trying to gain some equilibrium, but the room was so ful of tension it almost shoved her back down. “Why would I tel you anything?”

    He moved so fast.

    One moment he’d been lounging like an indolent lord and the next her head almost brushed his chest as he towered over her by at least a foot. His gaze was soft on her, and he was careful as he reached down to curl a strand of hair behind her ear.

    Ari shivered.

    And then immediately blanched, thinking of Jai. Taking a step back, she shook her head. “Are you trying to seduce the information out of me now, Asmodeus?”

    That glimmer from earlier shone from the depths of his dark gaze. “You are a curious thing. You are nothing like her. But before… I could have sworn I saw her. It’s not possible.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    He shook his head. “Nothing. I am just musing aloud that is al.”

    “You should realy leave, Asmodeus.”

    “Why? Afraid you might succumb to my charms and betray your young Mr. Bitar the way you betrayed the sorcerer?”

    A bolt of pure dislike for him shot through her, and he must have seen it in her expression for his own clouded over, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

    “Why would I betray someone as good and kind and loyal as Jai Bitar for someone as souless and empty as you?”

    Pain lanced through Ari’s head as Asmodeus’ hand shot out, clutching her hair and yanking it back as he puled her body into his. “Be careful,” he whispered across her lips, his breath sweet and at odds with his words. “I told you I bore easily and when I’m bored I like to toy with people. Try not to upset me.” He puled back to stroke her cheek almost tenderly. “Or I might decide you and your Ginnaye make pretty little toys.”

    And then he was gone in a blur of black, the door to her room slamming in his wake.

    Ari sagged, faling to the bed, her legs trembling. She felt as though she’d just escaped being eaten by a jungle cat.

    21 - Like Bitter Truth, Red on White is a Hard Stain to Remove

    Under the wintry skies of Mount Qaf two warring Jinn Kings stood together on a large balcony overlooking the state of Zubair. It had not always been like this, Red thought, a little melancholy as he stared at his brother’s cold profile. Once, before Lilif had poluted him against them al, White had been one of Red’s closest confidantes. Glass and White had never seen eye to eye, however, and their constant clashes had put Red in the middle, until Lilif had used the volatile dynamic between the three brothers to poison White against Red, whom he always believed to have taken Glass’ side in al things.

    “Where have you been?” Red asked quietly, turning to stare out onto the vilage that winded down through the mountains and into the fog below.

    White had only just returned to Zubair but Red already knew before he even arrived uninvited that Jai was not with him.

    “Around. I am not giving you the Ginnaye, brother, so you can forget about it. You helped father corner Ari by sending that boy you changed into a sorcerer after the Labartu-”

    “And you helped father by kidnapping Jai. He did what you were going to do, only he did it first.”

    “Father may have put protection around the Ginnaye, but that doesn’t mean I have to let him go. He remains where he is, so you might as wel leave.”

    There were deep suspicions brewing inside of Red. After everything he’d learned, of Ari’s dreams of Lilif, of what Kadeen had told him, he began to see what White’s agenda realy was. And now he realized there was more to Azazil’s decision to let Sala steal the Seal from Asmodeus. Perhaps, he even surmised Azazil’s reasons correctly. For a moment, Red thought about blurting it al out to White, to crush his arrogance so he would see once and for al that no one would ever best their father. Instead, he chose a different tact. “The Seal is changing Ari. It’s taking control of her more and more every day. There may come a point when she is unable to do as you wish because she wil no longer be Ari.”

    He saw the slight puckering of White’s brows as he braced his hands on the balustrade, the gentle wind whipping his blue robes back and revealing the heavily decorated scabbard of an acinaces dagger strapped to his right side. White only wore it when he was going into battle. Hmm, Red frowned. His brother was growing al symbolic on him.

    “How is that even possible?” White shook his head, disbelieving. “No. You’re lying to me again.”

    “I have never once lied to you. Our mother did try to kil Glass, and she was going to kil us al. Her failure to kil Glass exposed her, so she went after Asmodeus and would have kiled him if father hadn’t protected him.”

    “Wrong. Asmodeus was trying to kil mother. He was always father’s little pet, doing his errands. Even if it meant kiling a once beloved sister.”

    How many times would they have this argument? Weary, Red turned to look directly at his brother, White’s expression perfectly bland again. “I always wondered why mother gave up on this world. Now I have reason to believe that she had grown tired of watching the people she loved die over mortal life. She believed The After would be a place of peace for the Jinn. And she did not care how many of those Jinn had to die to achieve it. Her soul was not meant for eternal life, White. Too many centuries, too much pain… it warped her. I think our brother, Lucky, feels much the same. But he is strong enough to hide out in his land, away from al of this. Lilif…

    she would have taken us al down to destroy the balance.”

    For a moment, there was silence between them, the only sounds coming from the conversation of the Jinn far below. Finaly White looked at him, his eyes blank of any expression, but his voice thick with emotion. “You did not know her as I did,” he told him sadly, “From my youth she warned me of father and his too mercurial nature. She knew that one day he would be the end of things, and she reared me to be a soldier, to protect us al from that.”

    “The world is stil standing, brother, and it has been centuries since mother’s death. Centuries.”

    White flicked a shoo-ing hand at him. “I am weary of having this same argument over and over again. Just… get out.”

    Just as frustrated, Red growled and strode towards the balcony doors. But some devil, some gnawing creature ate at him and he found himself spinning around to glare at White’s back. “It took me a while to piece it al together.”

    Slowly, White looked back at him over his shoulder. “Piece what together?”

    “Your agenda. When father told me of Ari’s existence, I thought you’d done it to command father to his knees, to take his place. However, I realize now how foolish that thinking was, foolish to believe that you, you who believes so greatly in balance, would dare to do such a catastrophic thing. No. This is about Lilif. You believe she’s stil alive and that father has her hidden somewhere. You wanted Ari to command the truth of her whereabouts from Azazil.”

    The blankness melted from White’s eyes and they gleamed at Red with such hatred. But it wasn’t hatred for him. Mostly. It was hatred for their father. “He didn’t destroy her essence, Red. He lied. I can find it and her body with the help of Ari, and then mother wil be returned to us. With her, we can control father and restore the correct path of the balance. Together we can enforce the old ways. No more trespassing upon a brother’s day of shaping destinies. I wil have my Thursdays back again and you your Tuesdays.”

    Such arrogance. Such blind arrogance. Red’s mouth twisted as he shot White an almost pitying look. “The balance is not gone. Lilif tried to steal our essence to destroy the balance. When that failed, she remembered Azazil referring to her and Asmodeus’ as two halves of the one whole. So she decided that stealing his essence would probably make her equal to Azazil. You inherited her arrogance, White. And you’re a fool. A fool who could ever believe that Asmodeus was seduced by Sala.

    He let her seduce the Seal from him because father told him to.”

    White whipped around, his whole body coiled with tension. “You lie!” he thundered, uncharacteristicaly losing his calm just as Red knew he would.

    Feeling triumph at having broken through White’s ice cold shield, he smiled sadly at him. “No. He wanted you to have it. And my question is why? Why, I ask you?”

    Red believed he knew why, but that was more information than he was wiling to betray to White. For now, he just wanted his brother to realize that he was in over his head, and always had been.

    “You lie,” he repeated softly. “No. You lie. Just leave.” He turned to gaze blindly out into the mountains. “Just leave. And you can tel your precious niece that I wil never hand the Ginnaye over to her, until she agrees to do as I ask.”

    22 - Borrowed Ember

    Anger. It simmered beneath the surface. Waiting. Why did people always say ‘simmer’ when they spoke of anger? But as Ari watched Asmodeus as he led her deeper into the cavern, she knew the answer to her own question. Even buried anger never sat stil… it was always shaking, s-s-s-simmering, ready for the time when the concrete pavement keeping it buried broke apart under the devastation of whatever earthquake had finaly set its keeper off. Then there was no stopping the geyser of molten emotion that spewed out to take down anyone in its path.

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